2008 Election Survey Liberal Party of Canada
Sierra Club Canada and Greenpeace Canada submitted their 2008 election survey on environment
issues to the five federally funded political parties. The full
text of the questions can be
read. The parties responses are both summarized in a grid and reproduced in full. The text of the Liberal Party of Canada response follows.
Note: Covering letters which acompanied survey responses have been omitted. The text of party responses is, in all other respects, unaltered.
Liberal Party of Canada Response
Climate and Energy
Greenpeace, Sierra Club Canada and 30 other Canadian organizations have joined forces to build a national consensus for urgent policy action on climate change. Part of the campaign is to ask every candidate in this election to sign the KYOTOplus Pledge
which calls on them to “work to ensure that Canada honours its Kyoto commitment and sets a national target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25%, relative to the 1990 level, by 2020.”
Q: Will your party support the KYOTOplus objectives and targets for reductions in emissions?
Stéphane Dion has signed the KYOTOplus pledge, as have dozens of members of the Liberal
Caucus. The Liberal party has committed to reducing GHG emissions in Canada to 20 percent
below 1990 levels by 2020. If other industrialized countries adopt similar targets, a Liberal
government will extend that target to 25 percent below 1990 levels.
Climate and Energy
It is essential for Canada to develop a comprehensive plan to phase out the use of nuclear energy, recognizing that it is irresponsible for us to generate more highly radioactive waste – toxic waste that will be radioactive for millennia, placing an unfair burden on future generations of Canadians.
Q: Will your party support a comprehensive plan with a firm timeline for the phase-out of nuclear power in Canada?
More study needs to be done before determining the future of nuclear power in Canada. A
Liberal government will appoint a blue ribbon panel to study the future of AECL in Canada.
However, the federal government does not have ultimate control of the mix of energy sources in
Canada. Our energy system is run largely by provincial governments and it is up to determine
the mix of energy sources they use. Currently, the federal government cannot force the
provincial governments to comply to any one standard.
Climate and Energy
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is the federal crown corporation that designs and markets CANDU reactors and other nuclear technology. It has received over $20 billion in federal subsidies since it was founded in 1952. AECL has received over $200 million in federal subsidies to design a new reactor - the Advanced CANDU reactor. The Canadian nuclear industry is currently asking for hundreds of millions in additional subsidies to secure the sale of the prototype reactor to Ontario. Over its 50 year history AECL has only managed to sell one reactor design, the CANDU-6.
Q: Will your party end subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and refuse to provide Ontario with subsidies to purchase the Advanced Candu Reactor?
Please see answer to question number 2.
Climate and Energy
Alberta Tar Sands
By 2020, the tar sands are expected to emit more than 141 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year—more than what all motor vehicles currently emit in Canada. Several people downstream of the tar sands already have been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and other auto-immune disorders that are likely to be a result of pollution from upstream tar Sands operations.
Q: Will your party support a moratorium on new Tar Sands projects?
Again, it is not up to the federal government to determine when and how tar sands development
will take place. The extraction of natural resources is solely a provincial responsibility, and a
Liberal government would not tell the government of Alberta how to handle its affairs. That
having been said, a Liberal government will not be shy about regulating pollution and
greenhouse gas emissions from these projects.
Food and Agriculture
Genetically Engineered Food
Public opinion research indicates that over 80% of Canadians want mandatory labelling for Genetically Engineered (GE) food, and 40 countries have a mandatory labeling system. The federal government adopted “voluntary” labelling in April 2004, and until today Canadian consumers have not seen a single label telling them that food contain GE ingredients.
Q: Will your party propose legislated mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods in the next parliament and agree to an immediate moratorium on the approval of all new GE crops and foods until the government’s procedure for GE risk assessment has been reviewed and strengthened to meet strict scientific standards based on the precautionary principle?
The Liberal Party believes consumers should have meaningful, useful, and clear information
related to biotechnology and food.
A Liberal government would continue to investigate complaints and provide guidance and
explanations about food labelling in a regulatory context.
National Marine Reserves
Less than 0.5% of Canada’s oceans are protected, despite clear scientific evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of reserves in protecting marine resources including fisheries. Although Canada has plans to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012, it is far from being a leader when it comes to the amount of ocean area protected. Canada lags behind all other developed countries, when we consider the financial resources invested.
Q: Will your party support the creation of a representative network of Marine Protected Areas including 25% in Marine Reserves (no-take zones) in Canadian waters by 2012, and support a long-term goal of putting aside 40% of the international high seas in Marine Reserves?
A Liberal government will create a network of at least 30 marine protected areas nationwide by
We will ensure this network is accompanied by a zoning approach to ocean management that
engages interested people and communities in decisions about how to reduce risks to ocean
National Water Policy
Canada houses only a small fraction of the world’s renewable freshwater resources (6.5%), and an even smaller fraction of this (2.5%) is geographically accessible without harmful large-scale water diversions. As well, invasive species, persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disrupters and groundwater depletion all have an impact on our water supplies. The allowance of bulk water exports and diversions also threatens our water resources. We cannot continue to take our water resources for granted in
the face of global warming. Clean and abundant water is essential to ensuring the health of Canadians and the health of our economy.
Q: Will your party develop a comprehensive Canada-wide water strategy in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, First Nations, and community organizations by 2010, including a Sustainable Water Act that will conserve water through such measures as national appliance water efficiency standards, enhanced prohibitions on bulk water exports, and legally-binding federal standards for drinking-water quality and sewage treatment?
A Liberal government will implement a National Water Strategy using regulations, monitoring,
enforcement and new investment, to clean up our waterways and keep them clean.
Our infrastructure commitments will help our cities and communities to invest in much needed
water-treatment to manage water demand and preserve a clean water supply. In addition, we will
invest $400 million in a Canada Water Fund.
This new initiative will:
- increase monitoring and reporting of the quantity and quality of Canadian water;
- clean up our waterways, including ‘hot spots’ in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, and
- research the impact of emerging pollutants in water on human and aquatic ecosystem
- fight invasive species, such as the sea lamprey and zebra mussel;
- map Canada’s underground aquifers that supply our drinking water, so we know where
our groundwater comes from and how it is affected by human activities; and,
- support the on-farm and community-based fresh water development programs of the
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration.
Preserving Natural Lakes
A current loophole in the federal Fisheries Act allows healthy natural lakes to be re-designated as tailings impoundment areas - dumps for toxic mining waste - under Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMERs) section. There are other,
safer options for disposal of mining tailings, ones which don’t threaten freshwater ecosystems or groundwater quality.
Q: Will your party protect Canada’s lakes and groundwater sources by working to ensure that no more lakes end up on the MMERs list under Schedule 2 of the Fisheries Act?
The Liberal Party supports, in principle, the attempt to replace the 138 year old Fisheries Act,
however the Conservative government did not conduct the necessary formal consultations with
all individuals involved in the industry.
We feel that improvements can be made to the Fisheries Act; however a new Liberal government
would ensure stakeholders are properly consulted and concerns with the current components of
the legislation are heard.
Species at Risk
Canada’s endangered species and other species at risk are not adequately protected because the federal Species at Risk Act is not being fully implemented. Action plans for recovery are in place for less than 1% of Canada’s listed species at risk.
Q: Will your party support accelerating the implementation of the Species at Risk Act by implementing, by 2009, recovery strategies and action plans that identify and protect habitat for all species listed before 2008?
The Conservative government has flouted the Species at Risk Act for the two and a half years. A
Liberal government will rigorously enforce the science-based system for the management of
species at risk that it put in place when it was in government. It will ensure that recovery
strategies and action plans are quickly put into place, and the backlog of work to be done in this
area is cleared as soon as possible.
Few places in the world can still boast the kinds of wild spaces – and wild species – that can be found from coast to coast to coast in Canada. In the face of rapidly accelerating climate change and other threats, Canada needs to move fast to secure this natural legacy by permanently protecting a minimum of 50% of our remaining wild areas.
Q: Is your party committed to: • support a significant increase in the amount of protected areas in Canada, especially in large intact forests such as the Canadian Boreal Forest and Arctic ecosystems by establishing interconnected networks of protected areas and implementing regional land-use plans before approving any large- scale industrial projects, including the Mackenzie Gas Project and new Tar Sands expansion.
By 2009, announce a funded plan to complete and manage Canada’s network of National Parks, National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries?
To protect Canada’s ecosystems in the face of climate change, pollution and over-use, a Liberal
government will develop a National Ecosystem Stewardship Strategy for Canada, which will be
science-based, and will respond to the increasing pressures on our natural surroundings. Our
goal will be to protect a minimum of 50 per cent of Canada’s intact wilderness areas by creating
interconnected networks of protected areas, and ensuring that resource development on other
parts of the landscape is carried out in accordance with the highest environmental standards.
A Liberal government will make Canada an international role model for ecological conservation
by establishing a network of National Parks and protected areas. This network will include new
national parks to protect a representative sample of each of Canada’s 39 distinct natural
landscapes, beginning in the North. We will also establish much-needed national wildlife areas,
migratory bird sanctuaries, and marine conservation areas.
As we implement this strategy, we will affirm ecological integrity as an essential priority in their
management, working in partnership with provincial and territorial governments. We will ensure
that these networks of protected areas are planned within larger landscapes, with the involvement
of interested communities, to take into account their ecological, social and economic value.
To safeguard the Canadian Boreal Forest as one of the largest intact forest and wetland
ecosystems remaining on earth, we will work with the provinces and territories to implement a
conservation framework that preserves at least half of the Boreal forest in protected areas, and
allows only carefully managed development on the rest.
Health and the Environment
Environmental contaminants in our air, water, and food are having an enormous negative impact on the health of Canadians. Health Canada estimates that the direct health care costs and lost productivity caused by environmental factors add up to
between $46 billion and $52 billion a year.
Q: Will your party work in Parliament to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to implement the recommendations of the April 2007 all-party report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development? This includes placing the onus on companies to show that chemicals are safe, rather than the current onus on government to demonstrate harm, and requiring prompt and meaningful action to limit human exposure to a substance when scientific evidence shows it to be toxic.
A Liberal government will continue to work to implement all aspects of CEPA. Now that the
review of toxic substances initiated by the previous Liberal government is complete, it is time to
implement regulations to properly govern their use. A Liberal government will work quickly to
draft, publish, and put into force the appropriate regulations.
According to a recent report from the Canadian Medical Association, an estimated 700,000 Canadians will die prematurely over the next two decades because of illnesses caused by poor air quality.
Q: Will your party be prepared to, by 2008, set national and regional emissions reduction targets for harmful pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter, based on stringent air-quality standards that protect both the environment and human health, especially the health of vulnerable populations?
The Liberal climate change plan will not only help address climate change, it will also help clean
the air we breathe; being more energy efficient and using more renewable energy sources mean
we will spew less smog and pollution into our air.
In addition to our green shift initiatives, a Liberal government will pass tough National Ambient Air Quality Standards to reduce the pollutants that cause smog, haze, acid rain and other problems. These new standards will help to protect Canadians from the sources of air pollution in their regions, using health-based levels of safety for the air they breathe.
We will also help industry to upgrade their technology by making air pollution control
equipment eligible for rapid tax write-offs, and implement a comprehensive Mercury Reduction
Strategy, which will help to reduce the presence of this potent neurotoxin in our environment.
Environmental Bill of Rights
Currently, many Canadian health and environmental laws and policies are weaker than corresponding laws in other nations. Canadians need a strong Environmental Bill of Rights, to protect us from toxins and other environmental hazards.
Q: Will your party support the passage of an Environmental Bill of Rights that would: establish the right of citizens to a healthy environment; establish a duty of public trust on the part of the federal government to manage and protect the environment for the benefit of current and future generations; allow Canadians to take action against the federal government for any breach of its public trust duty; guarantee reasonable access to environmental information so that citizens make informed decisions; establish a right for citizens to participate in environmental decision-making?
A Liberal government will introduce a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights to ensure
transparency, accountability, and public participation in environmental decision-making. By
empowering citizens with better information and tools to hold governments to account, we will
better ensure that Canadians’ right to a clean environment is respected.
Putting a Price on Carbon
Today, Canadians recognize that the economy and the environment are two sides of the same coin. One reason we have entrenched environmental problems like poor air quality and accelerating climate change is that government policy sends the wrong economic signals. Our tax policies often subsidize economic behaviour that damages the environment and the climate by propping up damaging development – such as in the tar sands – instead of driving investment in more sustainable approaches. These old policies are both economically costly and environmentally unsustainable.
Q: Will your party institute carbon pricing through carbon taxes and/or a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions and use the proceeds to finance further actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting low-income Canadians and immediately shortening the phase-out period for the accelerated capital cost allowance for the tar-sands industry?
Climate change may well be the most pressing challenge of our time. But it also presents a rare
opportunity. By encouraging energy-efficient and clean technologies and practices today, Canada
can be a leader in the economy of tomorrow. The Liberal Green Shift is the foundation of a
national climate change plan, one that puts a price on carbon and addresses the carbon pollution
that is produced by all sectors of our economy and is stored in our natural spaces.
To set a clear path for ourselves, and be taken seriously internationally, we need to establish firm
targets to cut emissions in the short, medium and long term. A Liberal government will:
- respect our commitments and international obligations under the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change;
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and
increasing this goal to at least 25 per cent if other countries make comparable efforts;
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 emission levels by 2035;
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 60 to 80 per cent below 1990 emission levels by
These targets are tough but achievable. They are also consistent with those of other leading
jurisdictions. Most important, they are what scientific experts tell us is required to avert the
dangers of climate change and protect human health. Inspired by that goal, a Liberal government
will enact a plan to ensure that Canada reaches these targets, making Canada a world leader in
global environmental citizenship.
A Liberal government will act immediately to put a price on carbon that rises to $40 per tonne of
carbon emission within four years. That price will start low enough not to cause economic
hardship, but will progressively increase over time, to send industry the clear message that the
old ways of polluting production no longer make sense. The price will begin with our very first
budget, allowing Canadian companies to start right away on the path to increasing energy
efficiency and lowering emissions.
While the economy begins to adjust to a low carbon future, a Liberal government will take the
time to properly design mandatory, absolute emissions caps for the largest polluting sectors--oil
and gas production, utilities, and energy-intensive industries -- to ensure these companies reduce the emissions that harm our health and environment.
We will create a real carbon trading system to reward companies that reduce emissions more
quickly to sell their emission credits to those who will take a little longer to reduce. This “capand-
trade” system will harness the power of the market to fight climate change, setting an
absolute limit on industrial emissions and auctioning emission permits, while letting the market
decide how best to make the reductions in a cost-effective way.
Simultaneously we will help Canadian families be full partners in the greening of our economy
without having to shoulder an economic burden through generous tax cuts and benefits,
particularly for those in the middle and lower income tax brackets.
Corporations will also enjoy generous cuts to the taxes on their profits and receive incentives to
employ green technologies and to pollute less. A case in point will be the treatment of
companies in the oil sands. In recent years, these companies have received a special tax break on their investments, which was designed to take into account the risks linked to a new and untested technology to develop the oil sands. This can no longer be justified in an era where the
technology is well-established, with oil worth over $100 a barrel and billions in oil profits. A
Liberal government will immediately end the special tax treatment for oil sands development.
However, oil companies that invest in technologies that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
will benefit from our new accelerated capital cost allowance that rewards such green
Under the current Nuclear Liability Act, Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for most of the public liability associated with private nuclear installations.
Q: Will your party support a Nuclear Accountability Plan that includes legislation requiring full cost accounting of nuclear energy; fully shifts the liability and cost of insurance for nuclear power and long term waste disposal facilities onto electricity rates; and eliminates all direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies to nuclear energy?
See the responses to questions 2-3.
A blue ribbon panel to discuss a variety of issues about nuclear energy is the responsible thing to
do. A Liberal government would proceed based on the experts’ recommendations.